School District Examines Mixed Results For State, Federal Test Scores

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 25, 2008 - 09:49:00 AM

The Berkeley Board of Education recently discussed the 2008 Accountability Progress Report—which provides results from California’s Academic Performance Index (API) as well as the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Program Improvement (PI)—with district officials at a public meeting in the City Council Chambers. 

Both the API and AYP are based upon the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program and the California High School Exit Exam.  

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which requires states to improve public schooling for all  

students, schools and districts in California must meet or exceed the following AYP requirements in order  

to demonstrate Adequate Yearly  




According to a report submitted to the school board by Berkeley Unified School District’s Assistant Superintendent Neil Smith and Director of Evaluation and Assessment Rebecca Cheung, the district met the 95 percent participation criteria for AYP as required by No Child Left Behind for the first time in four years. 

The report shows that 14 of 16 Berkeley public schools met the mandated participation rates for the entire school as well as for every significant subgroup in both English Language Arts (reading and writing) and math. 

Berkeley Arts Magnet missed the 95 percent participation requirement for African-American students in both English and math, the report said, primarily because disabled students who took the test with modifications, as required by their Individual Education Plans, were not counted. 

Berkeley High School did not meet the participation requirement for socioeconomically disadvantaged students in math since it tested only 93 percent of the students. 


Proficiency rates 

Although the district’s overall proficiency level looks good, the district failed to have enough members in some of its student subgroups who were considered proficient in English  


Language arts or math 

Five district subgroups (African American, Latino, English learners, poor and disabled students) and two subgroups (African American and disabled students) did not meet proficiency levels. 

The AYP target for the percentage of students expected to score proficient or above on state assessments increased nearly 11 percentage points from 2007 and will continue to rise each year to meet the federal requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. 

In 2007 the state standard for performance was 24 percent, which increased to 35 percent this year. In 2009 it will be 45 percent. Under No Child Left Behind, each state defines what it considers to be proficient levels in English-language arts and math.  

Six Berkeley schools (Cragmont, Emerson, Malcolm X, John Muir, Oxford and Washington elementaries) satisfied AYP requirements and Washington exited Program Improvement status. 

Schools, school districts, and county offices of education that receive federal Title I funds and do not make AYP criteria for two consecutive years are identified for Program Improvement status. Such schools are subject to a five-year timeline of intervention activities.  

The Berkeley Unified School District is in its third year of Program Improvement status.  

In addition to the three middle schools (King, Longfellow and Willard) and Berkeley Technology Academy), three elementary schools (Arts Magnet, LeConte and Rosa Parks) are in Program Improvement status. 

Cheung said her department would be increasing support to all Program Improvement status schools. 

“We will be doing targeted enforcement to students,” she said. “This year schools are rewriting their entire school plans.” 

District Superintendent Bill Huyett said that Program Improvement was gradually losing its impact. 

“You hit year five and you look at providing extra support and that’s it,” he said. “So really the No Child Left Behind is starting to fall apart. However, the API continues to be a robust performance. That question about what is going to happen with federal government versus state is coming back and a lot remains to be seen with what the federal government is going to do.” 



According to the report, all K-8 schools in the district met the federal AYP API requirement of 620 points. 

Berkeley High failed to receive an API score since it did not meet the 95 percent participation requirement. 

Berkeley Unified received a API score of 760, up 14 points from its 2007 Base API score, showing that the district was progressing toward the target of 800. The API is a numeric index which ranges from 200 to 1,000 with a statewide target of 800. 

Cheung told the board that all district-wide subgroups showed growth on their API scores. 

Socio-economically disadvantaged students gained 33 points from a Base API of 641 to 674 and African American students gained 22 points from a Base API of 597 to 619. English Learner students gained 21 points from a Base API of 649 to 670. 

Five schools have gained more than 100 points and six more have gained more than 60 and 99 points on the API since 2002, Cheung said  


Graduation rate 

Berkeley Unified did not meet the graduation rate requirement. The rate for 2008—based on the class of 2007—was 82.8 percent, a decline of 3.1 percent. 

Berkeley High School met the requirement with a graduation rate of 85.6 percent—a drop from the previous year when the rate was 87.5 percent—while B-Tech, with a graduation rate of 43.6 percent—a decrease from the previous academic year’s 59.6 percent—failed to meet the requirement. 

According to the report from district officials, the California High School Exit Exam’s graduation requirements, which went into effect for the class of 2006, might be responsible for the decrease at both sites. 

“In addition,” the report states, “B-Tech has a small student population which leads to greater volatility in percentage calculations.”